A moving story with graphic appeal makes an effective case for animal rights.

CHIMPS SHOULD BE CHIMPS

An elderly zoo chimp tells the story of his oppressive early life as an animal performer.

It’s the 50th birthday of Old Poe, a chimp at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, and zookeeper Todd has decorated the outside of Poe's habitat with banners while visitors wish him happy birthday. Poe’s granddaughter, Lulu, asks Poe to tell her about when he was little, and he tells the compelling story of what it was like to be forced into a world where “chimps were not chimps”—where he was caged, frightened and mistreated as an animal entertainer. The artwork is effective, with scenes of Poe being mistreated in the past illustrated in muted, dark colors, while the present zoo-habitat scenes are drawn in glossy, inviting colors. The rhyming text mostly scans, though it never rises above amateurish. The story effectively demonstrates that zoos are qualified to provide chimps with the “appropriate care, housing and rich social life they require to truly be chimps,” but there is no mention of how zoo life compares with the quality of life of chimps in the wild. The app includes a helpful navigation menu and ten “Chimp Facts” to go along with the story. A narration option would be helpful, particularly since the rich language is probably not accessible for early readers.

A moving story with graphic appeal makes an effective case for animal rights. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Manning Productions

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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